One could make the case that the Fort Osage-Raytown South matchup is one of the area’s most intriguing rivalries.

In recent seasons, the Indians and Cardinals have battled for regular season conference supremacy and the postseason right to play for the Class 5 state championship.

Set against the backdrop of a two-game winning streak over their Suburban Middle Seven conference rival, Fort Osage took the field Friday looking to continue their recent success against the Cardinals.

Down 20-7 at halftime, Fort Osage used a lights-out hit on a two-point conversion attempt after a Raytown South touchdown to gain momentum and get within a touchdown of a win late in the fourth quarter.

However, Raytown South used a big hit of its own to stop the Indians on a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line and got a few calls to go their way in the waning moments to hold off the hard-charging Indians 26-21 at Ted Chittwood Stadium in Raytown.

“I saw No. 1 running around a lot,” Fort Osage head coach Ryan Schartz said of Raytown South speed merchant Marquise Cushon, who scored two highlight reel touchdowns on offense in the first half and another touchdown on a interception return early in the fourth. “We didn’t have speed like that.

“They played pretty well. We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them. I felt like we were in the game to the very end, though. Shoot, man, you can’t ask for a better high school football game.”

Two years ago, Raytown South defeated the Indians 6-0 in the state quarterfinals to advance to the Missouri Class 5 championship game. Fort Osage defeated Raytown South 13-7 last season in the Class 5 state semifinals and also downed the Cardinals in the regular season.  

 On Friday, it was the Cardinals turn to hoot and holler.

 “My gosh. Every time you step on the field it’s knockdown, drag-out,” Cardinals head coach David Allie said of the rivalry. “You’ve got two young teams battling there and making tons of mistakes – both sides of the ball. Luckily, the ball bounced in our favor this time.”

Cushon lead the Cardinals with two catches for 92 yards and a touchdown and added a touchdown on a 45-yard run that put Raytown South up 7-0 in the first quarter. Cushon got behind the Indian defense and scooted to a 48-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Marc-Alan Tucker that helped put the Cardinals up 14-7 with 3:31 left in the second quarter.

“He’s a special player,” Allie said. “We find ways to get the ball to him in space and he can make some things happen.”

Cushon’s score came after Fort Osage’s Jaleel Gordon ran 1 yard off tackle for a touchdown with 6:53 left before half. Billy Vigil’s extra point tied the game at 7-7.

Tucker added a 7-yard touchdown run with 4 seconds left in the first half to put Raytown South up 20-7. The Cardinals failed to convert the extra point.

“We had an all-right first half,” Fort Osage junior strong safety Drew Standifer said. “Our coaches just talked to us and told us this was our game, and we needed to step it up. The team stuck together and we stepped up. I think we fought back pretty hard for being down 13 points in the first half.”

Fight back the Indians did, thanks in large part to Standifer’s wallop on a Raytown South receiver on a two-point conversion attempt.

Fort Osage had cut the Cardinal lead to six points on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Steven McBee to fullback Rick Orcutt with 3:57 left in the third quarter. Raytown South answered with Cushon’s 28-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter that made the score 26-14 in favor of the Cardinals.

Standifer’s ensuing stick ignited the Indian sidelines and jump-started the offense on a 11-play, 59-yard drive capped off by McBee’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Gibbs.

Vigil’s extra point made it 26-21 with 7:38 left.

“That big hit was kind of like a really big emotional shift,” Standifer said. “Our offense just kicked in, and our defense kept coming with it.”

Fort Osage’s Oli Tauiautusa picked off a Tucker pass with 6:00 on the clock and returned it 18 yards to the Cardinals’ 20-yard line. On a fourth-and-goal play from the 4-yard line, a wide-open Gibbs had his hands on a sure touchdown until a Raytown South defender jarred the ball loose before Gibbs could squeeze the ball in for the go-ahead touchdown.

“I was proud of the way the receivers ran their routes and got open,” Schartz said. “That’s the way it goes. (Gibbs) is just a sophomore. He played big, and I’m proud of him, too. Some of those go your way and some of them don’t, and they didn’t tonight, but that’s OK.”

Fort Osage dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play, while Raytown South improved to 3-2 and 2-0.